Golden Globe Awards–2016

Quote from the Golden Globes website about the members who vote:

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a non-profit organization, the members of which are international journalists based in Southern California. The HFPA has about members who disseminate information about movies and television to the world through their various publications throughout the world.

Host/comic/actor Ricky Gervais was right last night. The Golden Globe Awards are really not worth anything. That is, they aren’t worth anything in terms of art, and really aren’t worth much to anyone else unless folks who market films can fool some folks that they should see a film because it won a Golden Globe. Remember that there are fewer than 100 members (perhaps fewer than 90). It’s right up there with the small number of voters on the Nobel Peace Prize committee, whose awards can often be taken with the same reservations.

In truth, the Globes are not quite the complete joke they were even a few years ago, though this year’s categories raise a question or two. In years past, the relatively small group of foreign journalists could be essentially bought with parties and trinkets, and they have rather nakedly nominated some folks because it would be nice (and lucrative) to have them appear on the awards show. Case in point from distant past: Pia Zadora winning anything for 1982’s Butterfly and 2010’s three nominations (including Best Picture) for The Tourist, which happened to feature camera-friendly Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

This year’s entries are not quite as laughable, and will likely function best as precursors for the Oscars, which is really the Golden Globes’ true role. There is no one standout film this year, and The Revenant winning Best Picture (Drama) is as good a choice as any.—as is giving the director award to its director Alejandro Iñárritu (director of last year’s Birdman) . Leonardo DiCaprio’s win was well deserved, both in terms of this film and his career (yes, he’s been around that long, and has been doing fine but often unrecognized work for years). DiCaprio deserves the accolades, but in truth there was no other male performance that has stood out this year, so the award may well have been for a career rather than the performance itself.

As intelligent and worthwhile as these three awards were, the foolishness that is the Golden Globes surfaced in its two categories for Best Picture/Actor/Actress. In what seems like a better categorization process than that of the Oscars, the Golden Globes divide pics and acting between drama and comedy. Since comedy is often so painfully misunderstood and ignored, it seems like a good idea. But apparently the application process is often wanting. The Martian as a comedy? It’s so ludicrous a thought that it seems beyond criticism, the awards critique equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

You know how funny it was, right? Stranded on Mars, fighting for survival, many folks worried on the ground and others risking their lives in outer space—remember all those hysterical scenes? And that Matt Damon—what a card! To be honest, I’m glad the film was recognized as Best Picture (Comedy) and that Damon won something for his star turn—which was more difficult than it looked. But (pardon the irony) seriously? A comedy? Yes, many of us take the foolishness of the HFPA and the awards for granted, but following the foolishness to its obvious end—as happened here—is beyond ridiculous. But hey, it’s only the Golden Globes, right?

In terms of anything remotely affecting reality, Brie Larson’s win for Room puts her squarely in line for an Oscar, which might bring more attention to the film, and will certainly not hurt the career of this young and talented actress. Kate Winslet looked genuinely shocked at her win for Best Supporting Actress for Steve Jobs, which also picked up a screenwriting award for Hollywood favorite Aaron Sorkin. (He looked as shocked as Winslet at his win.)

Sylvester Stallone’s win for Best Supporting Actor for Creed was a sentimental gesture, to be sure, but in truth was more than that. Mark Rylance, for example, (up for Bridge of Spies in this category) is a far better actor than Stallone could ever be, but Stallone’s performance in Creed as the finest work he’d ever done. He also “stuck out,” a near-essential to winning awards in his film in a way that some of the other performances didn’t. (Rylance’s work, as it often is, was beautifully subtle). And where was The Revenant’s Tom Hardy, and why was he missing in this list?

Jennifer Lawrence winning for Joy was a yawn. She is beloved by the Hollywood Foreign Press, and the others in her category (Best Actress/Comedy) were too old and already decorated, in films that were too small, or were “out there” loud actresses that may be funny but are not the well-rounded talents that Lawrence is. As Gervais said while introducing Morgan Freeman as the most respected actor in the room—while acknowledging that “that isn’t saying much”—this category, this year, wasn’t the strongest, and Lawrence’s win isn’t much of a triumph.

Other thoughts on the winners: Inside Out won over the recently lauded Anomalisa may help its chances with the Academy Awards; the same for Son of Saul in the Foreign Film category. (It seems a truism at this point that a sure way to a win for foreign films or documentaries is to have a Holocaust drama….)

Yes, there were some fascinating and surprising choices in the television awards, but this website is not www.TV-prof.com. : )

As for the show itself, acid-tongued Gervais presented a variety of humorous, tough, and occasionally awkward moments (especially with Mel Gibson). But his overall take on the Awards—that they are worthless and that the show is ridiculous—worked well in context. He is an acquired taste, to be sure, and he can be cruelly mean-spirited at times. But his ever-growing apparent discontent with the show as it progressed was funny and a much-needed antidote to the poisonous stuffy self-congratulatory spirit of the awards (which is only a preview to the greater self-importance demonstrated at the Oscars).

All in all, the Golden Globe awards proved what an unusual year it is for films, in that there is no one film that is dominating artistically (written while Star Wars: The Force Awakens is mopping up financially). Ultimately, Gervais is not just funny but correct. These are relatively useless awards. For the marketers, winning an award might draw a few folks in. For the artists themselves, it’s a happy thing to win but the award has nowhere near the significance of an Oscar. As a bellwether for those interested in what might be coming up for the Oscars, it’s at least fodder for the 24-hour entertainment news folks. And writers like me.

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About Mark DuPré

Full-time (associate) pastor at a Christian church. Part-time film professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Husband for 40 years to the lovely and talented Diane. Father to three children and father-in-law to three more amazing people. I preach, teach, counsel, write and plan in my real job. I teach a subject I love at RIT in my "other job," which is a lot of fun most of the time.... I play piano for our local college choir, and sing and play at church occasionally. I also have a film-related website at www.film-prof.com.
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